Phillies

Scott Kingery to get a start Monday in place of slumping Cesar Hernandez

Scott Kingery to get a start Monday in place of slumping Cesar Hernandez

Infielder Scott Kingery could get his first start of the new season when the Phillies begin a three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Monday night.

Manager Gabe Kapler has only altered his lineup once — to get starting catcher J.T. Realmuto a rest on Saturday — in eight games. That has left Kingery, Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams without a start. It won’t be easy to get Altherr and Williams into the outfield with the way Andrew McCutchen, Odubel Herrera and Bryce Harper have played. But second baseman Cesar Hernandez’ slow start could make it easy for Kapler to get Kingery some time.

“It’s something that is under consideration and we’ll talk about it tonight,” Kapler said of a lineup tweak after Sunday’s 2-1 win over Minnesota. “Cesar has not gotten off to his best start. We also have a tremendous amount of confidence based on his track record. He has a track record of getting on base. He has a track record of being a productive offensive player. We expect the same from him this year. And if we decide he needs a blow then we’ll get Scotty in there.”

Hernandez, who spent a good chuck of last season leading off for the Phils, has been hitting in the No. 7 spot in this new, deeper lineup. Through eight games, he is 5 for 28 (.179) with three walks, four strikeouts and a .250 on-base percentage.

Kingery is hitless with a walk in five plate appearances this season.

The Phillies signed Kingery to a six-year, $24 million contract before the 2018 season and he has long been viewed as the Phillies' second baseman of the future. Hernandez has thus far held serve at the position, but Kingery is in position to start putting some heat on him.

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MLB trade rumors: Phillies have some decisions to make

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Watch the video above for comments from Phillies decision-makers and players.

Should they buy? Should they sell? These four tough games against the Dodgers could provide some more clarity. Another ugly series loss could be the determining factor.

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Speedsters available

The Royals have made lightning-fast outfielders Billy Hamilton and Terrance Gore available. Neither is much of a fit for the Phillies, who already have Roman Quinn in that role.

Hamilton and Gore could both help a contender in need of a late-inning defensive replacement/pinch-runner. They are both impactful defenders and baserunners who can't hit.

As for Whit Merrifield, it seems unlikely Kansas City would move him despite being 30 games under .500. Merrifield is such a good, multi-dimensional player that the Royals deserve a huge score for him. At 30 years old, he is enjoying by far his best season, hitting .309/.361/.500 with 26 doubles, eight triples, 11 homers, 45 EBI and 14 stolen bases. Merrifield's .861 OPS is 55 points higher than his previous career-high.

Merrifield's dynamic offense and positional versatility make him a fit anywhere. The Cubs would make a ton of sense. 

Astros after a starter?

The Astros have gotten huge production from their top three starters, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley. But the back of the rotation remains a question mark. Collin McHugh is pitching in a mop-up role, Brad Peacock is dealing with a sore shoulder, Framber Valdez has been lit up three starts in a row, and Corbin Martin underwent Tommy John surgery the first week of July.

The Astros are still maybe the deepest team in baseball. Anything less than a World Series win would represent disappointment in 2019. Madison Bumgarner would make a whole lot of sense for Houston, which is still rich in prospects after all of their graduations to the majors.

Trade season begins

A pair of solid but unspectacular starting pitchers were moved this past weekend to kick off trade deadline activity.

Remember, these next two weeks figure to be even more frenzied than usual in July because there is now a hard trade deadline of July 31. No more August trades, except those involving a swap of minor-leaguers.

The Orioles sent Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox for a pair of 17-year-old position player prospects who had been playing for Boston's Dominican Summer League team. 

The soon-to-be 33-year-old Cashner went 9-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 17 starts with the Orioles. Baltimore went 11-6 in his starts and 17-59 in all other games.

The Red Sox needed another starting pitcher with the Nate Eovaldi experiment going sideways. Eovaldi has missed much of the season and will shift to the bullpen upon his return later this month. 

As of Monday afternoon, the Red Sox were 2½ games out of the second AL wild-card spot.

The Royals, meanwhile, traded Homer Bailey to the A's for a fringy Double A infielder. Bailey has been just OK this season, with a 4.80 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. 

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